Why does school accountability matter?

Public education leaders in Washington have developed a first draft of their statewide education plan. This plan is a requirement as part of ESSA, and state leaders say they’ll submit the final version to the U.S. Education Department by the Sept. 18 deadline.

A major chunk of the plan is dedicated to school accountability: Knowing how well schools are meeting the academic needs of students, showing that information to parents, and helping schools that are struggling the most.

We'll get into the details of the first draft of Washington's consolidated plan, and we'll try to figure out what it all means. In the meantime, I want to remind myself why this is important.

A strong, reliable system of accountability for our schools minimizes guesswork for parents. It grants them peace of mind knowing their school is doing well, or it shows them the plan for turnaround if their school is struggling.

We need to know how well our students are being educated and cared for at the institutions that demand their daily attendance and attention. We need to know what comes next if things start falling apart.

The principal at my son's elementary school is leaving at the end of the spring to take a promotion with the district. Her replacement will be our fourth principal in four years. We are living and watching the effects of institutional neglect at our South Seattle neighborhood school.

What's being done about it? What do our district and our state currently do for under-performing schools? Nothing of any substance. If our state's new education plan doesn't include stronger accountability levers, the answer won't change.